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The Work of Spiritual Practice

Quiet your mind and pay attention to your thought patterns.

Doing the work of spiritual practice usually requires tools or mechanisms that allow you to see how your thought process actually works. You need a way to interrupt your habit of referring every experience back to yourself and evaluating whether it hurts or helps you. This habit may seem necessary for your survival, but it is actually what is causing the many obstacles you face.

If you quiet your mind and pay attention to your thought patterns, you will see how your mind is continually measuring every person, situation, or thing. We often explain this programmed response as our ‘survival instinct,’ and believe it is essential to keep us secure in a dangerous world. We assume that in order to be safe, we need to know what is dangerous so we can eliminate or avoid it.

The thing is that your mind regularly distorts reality to create the impression of danger when there is no actual threat. Most of us are so mesmerized by our thoughts of danger that we rarely notice that most of them are mere fabrications. We are locked into a process of sorting everything into categories from threatening to appealing, and believe that our conclusions are real. We think this sorting process distills reality, when in fact it simply serves to generate an identity in the form of an individual personality or self.


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